Oct. 30, 2019
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Crews tackle more than 220 road projects in 2019

By Joseph Palmersheim

Road reconstruction, major bridge construction, new interchanges and road resurfacing were a big part of the 2019 construction season.

“We made great progress on several significant projects, and we’re grateful to Minnesotans for bearing with us during closures and detours,” said MnDOT Commissioner Margaret Anderson Kelliher. “Despite challenging weather conditions this year, our teams were able to complete hundreds of projects, sometimes ahead of schedule, and all of the work has made our state roadways safer and more reliable.”

The 2019 road and bridge construction program included 221 projects. An additional 66 projects helped improve safety at railroad crossings, and made improvements on runways and terminals at regional airports.

Complete list of 2019 projects and their status

Studies and plans for possible future projects

Construction highlights by region include:

A large yellow machine is being operated by a work crew

Resurfacing of I-35W in Minneapolis continues on the 35W@94 project, which is scheduled to be completed in 2021. Photo by Rich Kemp

Twin Cities

  • I-35W@94 Minneapolis – Crews reopened the 28th Street and 40th Street bridges; reopened the ramp from Fourth Avenue to I-35W south and opened I-35W south to three lanes. The work is part of this four-and-a-half year project reconstructing 2.5 miles of I-35W near downtown Minneapolis. Work includes replacing and improving bridges and reconstructing pavement on I-35W, building a new MnPASS lane, providing space for Orange Line Bus Rapid Transit Station, improving access to the Lake Street Business District, and adding noise and safety improvements.
  • I-35W Minnesota River Bridge replacement – Constructed and opened the new northbound I-35W bridge spanning the Minnesota River and raised I-35W between Cliff Road and Black Dog Road out of the floodplain as part of the I-35W Minnesota River Bridge replacement project that will continue through fall 2021.
  • I-35W North MnPASS – All traffic was shifted to the northbound side for the 2019 construction season while crews constructed new lanes on the southbound side. The new southbound lanes will reopen by mid-November, when traffic will return to the normal north/south patterns and remain there for the winter.
  • I-35 split in Forest Lake – Resurfaced existing pavement, replaced the flyover ramp from westbound Hwy 8 to I-35 south with a loop ramp, replaced the westbound Hwy 8 bridge over I-35 and replaced the northbound I-35W bridge over southbound I-35E.
  • I-94 Maple Grove to Clearwater – Crews constructed new temporary lanes and crossovers, and reinforced shoulders in preparation for next year’s construction on the westbound and eastbound lanes.
  • I-694/94/494 interchange – Replaced and widened the southbound interchange bridge, repaired pavement, constructed new southbound auxiliary lane from 10th Street to I-94, added southbound buffer lanes and reconstructed ramps.
  • I-494 pavement rehab in Inver Grove Heights – Widening and resurfacing of bridge deck over Concord Street/Hwy 156, bridge repairs and new auxiliary lane, between Concord St. and Blaine Avenue, will be complete in November 2019. Resurfacing in both directions between Harman and the Minnesota River is ongoing through fall 2020.
  • Hwy 212/County Road 41 reduced conflict intersection – Two reduced conflict intersections were finished at County Roads 36 and 41 on Hwy 212 in Dahlgren Township to improve safety.
  • Hwy 65, East Bethel and Ham Lake – A two-year project completed this past summer built six reduced conflict intersections and lengthened left turn lanes on the Hwy 65 Corridor between Blaine and East Bethel. The signalized RCI at Hwy 65 and Viking Boulevard is the first in Minnesota. The improvements will improve safety and mobility on nearly 17 miles of the heavily traveled highway corridor.


A sign marked road closed to thru traffic sits near an empty stretch of dirt where the road will be

Crews construct a roundabout at the intersection of Hwy 71 and Hubbard County Road 15 in Park Rapids. The project also includes pedestrian accessibility improvements, sewer updates and resurfacing. Photo by Rich Kemp

Northern Minnesota

  • I-35 Snake River – Constructed four new bridges at the Snake River at Hwy 70 and County Road 7 near Pine City, resurfaced seven miles of pavement.
  • Hwy 65 Sandy River – Resurfaced approximately 16 miles of pavement from Sandy River to Hwy 200, repaired or replaced several culverts and made accessibility improvements at the Big Sandy Lake Overlook.
  • Hwy 65 Aitkin/Itasca counties – Resurfaced approximately 25 miles of pavement from Hwy 200 to Hwy 169 near Pengilly.
  • Hwy 2/Hwy 59 Erskine – Reconstructed and replaced the concrete pavement on Hwy 2. Bridge repair and maintenance has also been completed on the Hwy 59 overpass as well as replacement of curb, gutter, storm sewer and culverts.
  • Hwy 71 Park Rapids – Graded and resurfaced north to 8th Street, storm sewer replaced, and along with the city of Park Rapids, resurfaced and replaced frontage roads, sanitary sewer and water mains. The project also included construction of the roundabout at the intersection of County Roads 15 and 53. Project is estimated to be completed in early November.
  • Hwy 1 Northome – Resurfaced Hwy 1 in Northome, constructed sidewalks, improved accessible pedestrian ramps and signals, constructed multi-use trail, curb and gutter, storm sewer, highway lighting and traffic signals. Project is estimated to be completed in early November.


A finished stretch of highway, marked with a sign reading North 15

District 3's Hwy 15 Kimball project wrapped up ahead of schedule on July 26. The project reconstructed 12 miles of Hwy 15 road surface, repaired or replaced pipes and box culverts, and upgraded the pedestrian crosswalks and signals at the intersection of Hwy 15 and Stearns County Roads 47/136 in St. Augusta. Photo by Jenny Seelen

Central Minnesota

  • I-94 Alexandria to Garfield – Completed concrete resurfacing between Hwy 29 near Alexandria to Hwy 114 near Garfield, and replaced the eastbound I-94 bridge over Lake Latoka.
  • Hwy 59/55/79 – Completed resurfacing and a partial reconstruction of Hwys 55, 59 and 79, including storm sewer upgrades, lighting installation and pedestrian accessibility improvements in Elbow Lake.
  • Hwys 27, 75 – Completed resurfacing and replaced sidewalks, curb and gutters to improve pedestrian accessibility on Hwys 27 and 75 in the city of Wheaton.
  • Hwy 10, 59 in Otter Tail County – Resurfaced approximately 15 miles of Hwy 10 between Frazee and Perham in both directions, and approximately one mile on Hwy 59 north of Pelican Rapids.
  • Hwy 28 from Starbuck to Glenwood – Resurfaced and widened shoulders from Starbuck to Glenwood, constructed a bypass lane at County Road 24 and left turn lanes at Golf Course Road.
  • Hwy 119 from Hwy 40 to Hwy 12 – Resurfaced from Hwy 40 in Lac qui Parle County to Hwy 12, north of Appleton. The project excluded the portion of Hwy 119 that is within the city of Appleton.
  • Hwy 75 near Wolverton – Resurfaced the highway from County Road 184 to the Wilkin/Clay county line, and completed storm sewer repair and sidewalk improvements in the city of Wolverton.
  • Hwy 27, Little Falls – Reconstructed road, replaced city water and sewer utilities, improved pedestrian sidewalks and approaches, upgraded signals.
  • Hwy 55, Annandale to Buffalo – Reconstructed road surface, replaced pipes, improved pedestrian access in Maple Lake.
  • Hwy 15, St. Augusta to Kimball – Reconstructed road surface and replaced pipes.
  • Hwy 210, Brainerd to Ironton – Reconstructed road surface, improved access and replaced drainage.
  • Hwy 10, Wadena – Resurfaced road surface east and west of Wadena, mainline reconstruction begins in 2020.
  • Hwy 65/107, Braham – Installed a Continuous Green T-Intersection with traffic signal.


Governor Tim Walz speaks at a podium, with the repaired bridge in the background

Gov. Tim Walz speaking at the July 1 opening of the historic Hwy 43 through-truss bridge in Winona. Photo by Kevin Gutknecht

Southern Minnesota

  • Hwy 14 Tracy – Resurfaced approximately 13 miles from 4th Street in Tracy to County Road 7 in Revere, repaired culverts, upgraded sidewalks and pedestrian ramps.
  • I-90 Albert Lea – Constructed a reduced conflict intersection (J-turn) at the intersection of Hwy 23 and County Road 7 in Marshall, and installed a living snow fence for blowing snow control.
  • I-90 bridge – Twelve bridges were repaired along I-90 between St. Charles and Nodine.
  • I-90 – Work continues to resurface all lanes of I-90 between Hwy 61 near the city of Dakota to Wisconsin border.
  • I-90 Albert Lea – Twelve miles of westbound lanes paved with concrete and westbound bridge deck replaced at Freeborn County Road 46.
  • Hwy 14 – Ceremonial groundbreaking event planned Nov. 1 for the project to expand Hwy 14 to four lanes between Owatonna and Dodge Center. Construction planned through 2022.
  • Hwy 52 – Resurfaced from Marion to Chatfield along with culverts replaced and new signal installed at Chatfield.
  • Hwy 43 – Winona Bridge rehabilitation completed and opened to traffic July 1 adjacent to new bridge that was completed in 2016.
  • Hwy 61 – Work continues to complete resurfacing of approximately 21 miles from Lake City to Hwy 42 near Kellogg. Completion expected in early November.
  • I-90 Fairmont – Resurfaced 16 miles of westbound I-90 from Hwy 15 in Fairmont to the Blue Earth River. The eastbound lanes will be resurfaced in 2020.
  • Hwy 60 – Repaired and resurfaced approximately 13 miles of both east and westbound Hwy 60 from Hwy 4 west of St. James to Hwy 15.
  • Hwy 14/Hwy 15 New Ulm Gateway – The Front Street Bridge and new interchange at Hwy 14/Hwy 15/County Road 21 were completed. The New Ulm Minnesota River bridge is still under construction and completion is weather dependent.
  • Hwy 63 Red Wing Bridge – New bridge will open to traffic in November. Demolition of current bridge will begin in winter and additional road work on adjacent roads and finishing work on the bridge scheduled for 2020 completion. Ribbon-cutting event tentatively planned for Nov. 14 new bridge opening.



More than 200 snowplow operators complete SPOT training

By Anne Meyer

An orange MnDOT plow truck makes its way down a dirt path lined with cones.

Snowplow driving through SPOT training course at Camp RIpley. Photo by Anne Meyer

Dozens of orange delineator cones created a curvy trail on a dirt lot inside Camp Ripley in Little Falls last week. The cones helped new snowplow operators practice making tight turns in 66,000-pound trucks. It’s one of the driving skills operators learn each year at Snowplow Operator Training, known as “SPOT.”

The two-week SPOT sessions provide classroom and behind-the-wheel experiences to teach operators a variety of safety measures, plowing techniques and best practices.

“They start out just driving on the base and then each run with the snowplow builds on the previous one,” said Rick Shomion, SPOT training supervisor. “Once they become more skilled and proficient in operating the truck, we’ll get them out on the highway.”

Shomion says the training continues back in the districts, where drivers will become more familiar with their individual routes and how to load and unload their snowplows with material.

For some operators, SPOT training is the first time they’ve driven this type of truck.

“This is way bigger than anything I have plowed with before,” said Adam Haaf, transportation generalist, Sauk Centre truck station. “The first time I sat in one, I thought I was sitting in a spaceship. It was overwhelming at first. There are so many buttons you have to use.”

MnDOT has trained more than 2,000 snowplow operators at Camp Ripley since 2004. The centrally located facility offers plenty of room to practice. This year’s first SPOT session was offered in September, and the second session ended Friday, Oct. 25.



Researchers looking at new way to protect bats during bridge construction projects

By Maria DeLaundreau, Research and Innovation

Ultrasonic devices, which resemble music speakers, are mounted on the underside of a bridge

An NRG bat deterrent system mounted under a bridge. Photo by Chris Smith

Oct. 24-31 is Bat Week.

Bats are essential to the health of Minnesota's environment and economy. Most bats eat insects, including moths, beetles and flies. A single bat can eat up to its own body weight in insects each night. This helps protect our food crops and forests from insect pests, saving farmers and forest managers billions of dollars each year.

MnDOT has funded a study to evaluate the use of non-lethal ultrasonic acoustic devices to temporarily deter bats from bridges before and during construction projects. These devices emit a sound, inaudible to humans, that disrupts the bat’s ability to echolocate and therefore discourages bats from approaching. This new technology has been used for wind turbines with positive results. The devices are being tested on two bridges in District 6.

Protected bats sometimes use bridges for day roosting habitat and sites for maternity colonies to give birth and raise young. When that happens, bridge repair and replacement projects have to follow regulatory requirements to minimize impacts on species protected by state and federally regulations, including the Endangered Species Act. These regulations protect bat populations that have already declined due to white-nose syndrome, which is estimated to have killed more the 5.7 million bats in eastern North America since 2006. The northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) is listed as a threatened species as it is one of the species most impacted by white-nose syndrome. Other species are anticipated to be protected as the disease spreads.

“Temporarily deterring bats from a work site saves taxpayers money and increases bat safety,” said Chris Smith, MnDOT’s wildlife ecologist and the technical liaison for the project.

Regulations for protected species can limit activity that is potentially harmful, including bridge work during times when bats may use bridges for roosts or maternal colonies. Without the use of deterrents, work may be delayed until bats vacate the bridge, which may not occur until bats retreat, for example, to caves and mines for the winter. Having control over when bats are present will provide more predictable timelines to projects and reduce engineering and administrative costs associated with delays and changes to work plans. Without a control measure, projects must adhere to timing restrictions that increase construction costs and may even reduce bridge life expectancy. And if bats are kept away from construction sites, they will not be directly harmed or disturbed by the activity.

Visit the Crossroads transportation research blog to learn more.



Geographic information systems day is Nov. 13

GIS day logo

By Joseph Palmersheim

Interested in knowing about geographic information systems?

MnDOT will be participating in GIS Day, which takes place Wednesday, Nov. 13, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the ground floor lobby at Central Office. It will be one of many universities, government agencies, schools, nonprofits and GIS professionals hosting events around the world that day.

MnDOT’s event, its first since 2016, aims to showcase the agency’s GIS applications and how employees can leverage those for their projects, along with ideas of how they might implement a GIS app for their specific use.

“GIS” refers to a set of tools that captures, stores, analyzes, manages and presents data that are linked to locations.

“GIS is very important to our work here at MnDOT,” said Blaine Hackett, research analyst supervisor, Transportation System Management. “It helps staff members collect, manage and analyze geospatial data. GIS data is one of the key pieces of information that assists MnDOT in getting federal funding for our roadways.”

New features for this year’s event include a digital presentation format using large screens to demonstrate live GIS applications, along with “hands-on” experiences.

More about GIS



Asian ERG participates in Hmong Resource Fair

Four volunteers are standing or sitting behind a table covered in MnDOT items.

The Asian Employee Resource Group participated in the Hmong Resource Fair on Oct. 5 at the Community School of Excellence in St. Paul. More than 700 people attended this free community event, which is hosted yearly by Hmong Education Resources Today. Members of the Asian Employee Resource Group provided information about career opportunities and services that MnDOT provides. From left are Chao Aiko Yang, Human Resources; Mai Nhia Lor, Project Management; Jennifer Xiong, Audit; and Chang Pao Yang, Business Processes. Photo by Lena Garcia.

Sue Kielty helps navigate world of workers' comp

By Rich Kemp

Workers' compensation is something one might not pay much attention to it until it's needed. Sue Kielty, who oversees MnDOT's Regional Workers' Compensation coordinators, understands the difficulties employees face when they are injured. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Sue Kielty has worked with MnDOT for more than 34 years. She is the Workers' Compensation Program manager. She says I oversee the return to work program for the agency so our injured employees can return to work as quickly and safely as possible after they are hurt.  We are always striving to look for better ways to share our resources with supervisors and employees. I supervise the Regional Workers’ Compensation Coordinators.  Our program would not work if it were not for our excellent staff.  Workers’ Compensation is that niche area that many employees are not familiar with until they need to be. We understand that. We know this is a difficult time for employees when they are injured. It’s a very sensitive area we are dealing with. A typical day can involve crunching numbers and generating reports to tell me what our trends are and the types of injuries we are having which is very important to know. Of course I attend meetings and receive training regularly, but there are many aspects of workers’ compensation I had not ever thought about.  I talk to other agencies and other supervisors with similar roles as mine to discuss our challenges and how we can work to meet them. Each day here at MnDOT poses new challenges and allows me to use my creativity to look into a problem or situation and figure out a way we can resolve it.  There’s a great deal of communication involved with the work I do whether it’s working with my staff, employees, supervisors or others from outside of the agency. What I enjoy most about my job are the staff that work with me. They are wonderful people with genuine passion for their work and especially in helping to return employees back to work.  I also very much appreciate the support I receive from our leadership.  All of these things make my job go much smoother.  I have only worked at MnDOT, so I cannot compare our agency to another agency, but I can tell you that I have heard from employees from other agencies how much they would like to work here.  I think our agency has a lot to offer.  I’ve been very fortunate in my time here for knowing so many wonderful people.

Do you or a co-worker have an interesting job to share with readers? Send us your ideas, and we’ll contact you for more information. 

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